Thursday, January 05, 2006

Skijoring goes mainstream

In 1995 I had one of the first web pages on the net about skijoring. I'd started with my buddy Molly in early 90s on the advice of our vet in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (aka Alaska south). Molly now rolls in celestial fish, but even into her old age she loved the harness and lead -- even though she didn't do much pulling after age 12 or so. That old web page still shows up in the first page of a Google search, which says something about the gravitational attraction of old web pages.

Now, happily, Skijoring has made it to the popular culture -- via the New York Times:
Fitness - Skijoring - Fashion - New York Times:

Skijoring (pronounced skee-JOAR-ing) has long been practiced in Alaska and Scandinavia, where sled-dog sports are part of the local culture. But in the last five years it has gained momentum in places like Vermont, upstate New York, Michigan, Colorado and Minnesota and now has a following among thousands of recreational skiers and their dogs, said Tim White, the president of the International Federation of Sleddog Sports, in Minnesota. Cross-country ski areas have opened hundreds of miles of trails to skiers and their pets, and new skijoring clubs, equipment makers, races, instructional clinics and Web sites cater to the converts.

Participation in skijoring has grown as people find that many breeds of dog are fit and strong enough to pull their owners. Though pugs and bichon friss won't qualify, active healthy dogs that weigh at least 35 pounds can skijor. Arctic sled dogs like Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes are popular race breeds. But Labrador retrievers, Rhodesian ridgebacks, Great Danes, greyhounds, border collies and even standard poodles can also participate. A giant schnauzer is hardly an arctic sled dog, but Raven took to skijoring with little hesitation, Ms. Offerman said.
If not for the waning of winter snow cover, the sport would be much bigger. Alas, in many parts of America snow cover is only a memory. Molly and I ended up doing more "skatejoring" than skijoring. Inline skating with a harnessed dog, however, is a sport for the terminally insane.

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